Is there such a thing a “too much exercise?”

February 25, 2010 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

With the increasing problems of obesity and cardiovascular diseases attributed to sedentary lifestyle, physical exercise has touted as the solution to lots of health problems. But can physical exercise also have some adverse effects on health? German and American researchers presented results at Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in Chicago last year that indicated that high levels of physical activity can cause cartilage damage and lead to osteoarthritis.

According to Dr. Christoph Stehling, a researcher in the US and in Germany:

“Our data suggest that people with higher physical activity levels may be at greater risk for developing knee abnormalities and, thus, at higher risk for developing osteoarthritis.”

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting about 27 million people in the US. It is a degenerative joint disease that causes pain, swelling and stiffness.

The researchers looked at 236 study participants (100 men and 136 women) with ages ranging from 45 to 55. The participants were asked to complete the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE) questionnaire and based on their PASE scores, were classified as low, middle-, and high-activity groups. A person of high activity level would typically engage in several hours of walking, sports or other types of exercise per week, as well as yard work and other household chores. The participants were then subjected to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that looked at musculoskeletal structures of the knee.

The study results revealed the following knee abnromalities in some of the participants:

  • meniscal lesions
  • cartilage lesions
  • bone marrow edema
  • ligament lesions

The frequency and degree of knee damage seems to be associated with the level of physical activity based on PASE scores.

Dr. Stehling continues to say

“The prevalence of the knee abnormalities increased with the level of physical activity… In addition, cartilage defects diagnosed in active people were more severe.”

In addition, certain activities, especially weight bearing activities such as walking or running cause more damage than other activities. The researchers do not necessarily advocate a sedentary lifestyle, which can be also detrimental to musculoskeletal health. Instead, they recommend non-weight bearing activities such as swimming and cycling. These activities are beneficial to cardiovascular health without causing cartilage damage.

The study authors concluded:

•High levels of physical activity may result in knee damage and eventually arthritis for middle-aged men and women.

•MRI showed evidence of knee abnormalities, including cartilage damage and ligament lesions, in active adults with no pain or other symptoms

Nutritional supplements for osteoarthritis evaluated

December 29, 2009 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

The 2009 Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) was held in Philadelphia in October. One of the main subjects of the research studies presented during the conference was advances in the management of osteoarthritis as featured in this Medscape report.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis characterized by the breakdown of cartilage around the joints. Some of the symptoms are pain, swelling, stiffness, and impairment of motion and function. It affects the joints of the hands, knees, hips or spine. Although the causes of osteoarthritis are poorly understood, studies have identified the risk factors as:

  • old age
  • female sex,
  • high BMI or obesity
  • previous trauma
  • malalignment
  • genetic factors and
  • biochemical changes in aging joint tissues

During the ACR meeting, several investigations of nutritional interventions for osteoarthritis were presented. Some of the nutritional therapies are summarized below.

Glucosamine for Knee Osteoarthritis

Glucosamine is a common nutritional supplement used for the management of degenerative joint disease. It is available over the counter. At the ACR meeting, the results of the Joints on Glucosamine (JOG) trial that evaluated the effect of glucosamine on knee osteoarthritis were presented, with disappointing results.

“…no differences were observed in the progression of cartilage lesions between the treatment and placebo arms over the 24-week study. Moreover, glucosamine did not reduce levels of urinary type II collagen fragments, a biomarker for cartilage turnover. Taken together, these data suggest that glucosamine does not inhibit structural progression in knee OA, although this study is limited by its relatively small sample size and short follow-up, especially in light of the fact that OA lesions develop and progress over several years. “

Avocado-soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) for Hip Osteoarthritis

The nutraceutical made from Avocado-soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) is a popular osteoarthritis pain remedy especially in Europe. It is made from extracts of avocado and soybeans.  Results of a 3-year trial that investigated the efficacy of ASU to prevent progression of hip osteoarthritis indicated a weak benefit that needs to be confirmed by more studies.

At 3 years, no differences were observed between the placebo and ASU-treated groups in the primary outcome, which was change in joint space width. However, a statistically significant 20% reduction in progression, defined as > 0.5 mm reduction in joint space width, was observed in the treatment arm. No effects were observed on patients’ symptoms and ASU was generally well tolerated. Interpretation of the findings from this study is limited by the high patient dropout rate from the study of 41% and a failure to observe a significant difference in the primary outcome. Additional studies are needed to conclusively determine whether ASU has structure-modifying benefits in hip OA and could delay the need for joint replacement procedures.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are very popular supplements against cardiovascular diseases. But do they have beneficial effects in inflammatory diseases such as osteoarthritis? Unfortunately, years of study haven’t answered this question. One study reported at ACR meeting

“Higher intake of the antioxidants beta-carotene, vitamins E and C, and selenium were not associated with a reduction in the incidence of severe OA. Surprisingly, an association between high selenium intake and knee and hip OA was observed. This intriguing observation, which could influence how one counsels patients on the use of antioxidant supplements, needs to be confirmed with additional studies.”

Cartilage loss: body weight matters

July 15, 2009 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

kneeYour knee is a very essential anatomical part in order to be mobile. That is why the bones of the knee are well-protected by the tibio-femoral cartilage. However, the protective cartilage sometimes gets damaged due to a wide range of factors, leading to pain, loss of mobility and even disability. Cartilage damage can lead to osteoarthritis, a progressive and painful disease caused by breakdown of the cartilage. It is the most common form of arthritis, afflicting approximately 27 million Americans.

According to lead researcher Dr. Frank Roemer

“Osteoarthritis is a slowly progressive disorder, but a minority of patients with hardly any osteoarthritis at first diagnosis exhibit fast disease progression. So we set out to identify baseline risk factors that might predict rapid cartilage loss in patients with early knee osteoarthritis or at high risk for the disease.”

The researchers looked at 336 people with 347 osteoarthritic knees. The majority of the study participants were women (65.2%), with an average age of 61.2 years and an average body mass index (BMI) of 29.5. The participants were followed up for 30 months. During this period, cartilage loss was monitored using whole organ magnetic resonance imaging. The results showed that

  • 20.2% of participants had slow cartilage loss during the follow-up period
  • 5.8% experienced a rapid rate of cartilage loss.

The researchers also identified the top risk factors that might influence the rate of cartilage loss, namely:

  • preexisting cartilage damage at baseline
  • evidence of tear or injury to the meniscus (the cartilage that cushions the knee joint)
  • high BMI
  • evidence of inflammation in the synovitis which lines the joints.

Of these, the high BMI is the only modifiable factor. Age, sex and ethnicity don’t seem to play a role in cartilage loss.

The rate of cartilage loss increased with increasing BMI. BMI is the ratio of body weight to height and a range of 18.5 to 25 is considered normal. BMI values above this range indicate being overweight or obesity. For every one unit increase in BMI, the likelihood of rapid cartilage loss increased by 11%

Dr. Roemer continues

“As obesity is one of the few established risk factors for osteoarthritis, it is not surprising that obesity may also precede and predict rapid cartilage loss. Weight loss is probably the most important factor to slow disease progression.”

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Osteoarthritis in canines: biomarker research gives hope to dog owners

June 11, 2009 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

dogIt is not only humans who suffer from osteoarthritis. Animals such as horses and dogs can have it as well. Osteoarthritis is a disease characterized by degradation of the articular cartilage, that results in pain, inflammation and loss of motion in the joint.

And like humans, animals also suffer from pain and restricted mobility that the disease brings.

Researchers at the University of Missouri have been searching for a feasible biomarker for risk of developing osteoarthritis and they might just have found one that works for dogs as well. According to James Cook, professor of veterinary medicine and surgery, and the William & Kathryn Allen Distinguished Professor in Orthopedic Surgery

“By developing methods for earlier diagnosis of osteoarthritis, prevention or even curative treatment strategies to manage the disease become more realistic. Biomarkers could detect the disease before pain and swelling occurs, and owners could take preventative measures, such as modifying activities or diet, helping their pets lose weight and strengthen their joints, to reduce the likelihood of their dogs developing osteoarthritis.”

The researchers looked for potential biomarkers in the synovial fluid, the fluid that lubricates the joints. It is believed that the synovial fluid responds rapidly to damage to the joints. The By taking samples from dogs, UM researchers found that the quantity and quality of synovial fluid exhibited some marked changes in canine patients with injured stifle joints. This is the joint in the hind limbs of dogs that is the equivalent joint to the human knee.

“At the MU Comparative Orthopaedic Laboratory, we are particularly interested in identification and validation of biomarkers that can detect early stages of osteoarthritis to provide accurate diagnostic and prognostic information prior to the onset of clinical disease for people and for pets,” Cook said. “Our team, led by Drs. Kuroki, Stoker and Garner, is making tremendous progress in developing simple tests on blood, urine and synovial fluid that show great promise for helping us diagnose impending osteoarthritis before it is too late to help the patient in the most effective manner.”

Like in humans, osteoarthritis in dogs is associated with age. It is estimated that 20% of middle-aged dogs and 90%of older dogs have osteoarthritis in one or more joints. In humans, the incidence is even much higher.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

A therapy to get osteoarthritis patients moving

March 23, 2009 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

gymnastPhysical exercise is essential in maintaining joint health and in managing symptoms of osteoarthritis. But it doesn’t feel like it, as many arthritis patients would attest, making performance of simple daily activities challenging, much less compliance with prescribed exercise routines.

But a new type of therapy, the so-called activity strategy training might just be the help that patients with osteoarthritis of the hip and knee.

This is based on a study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan Health System.

Taught by occupational therapists, this structured rehabilitation program is designed to educate patients about joint protection, proper body mechanics, activity pacing, and environmental barriers. For example, patients with joint pain caused by osteoarthritis learn techniques for walking around the house or outdoors, or even getting in and out of a car.

The study compared two strategies: the commonly prescribed regular exercise and health education sessions vs the activity strategy training (AST) plus regular exercise. The outcomes showed that AST was more effective in increasing and maintaining physical activity in osteoarthritis patients. The difference between the two strategies is probably that AST is more customized to the patients’ needs while structured exercise is not. Furthermore, AST addresses barriers to physical activity that may be specific to certain communities or environment, such as those found in senior homes, for example.

Osteoarthritis is “a degenerative disease that causes the breakdown of the cartilage in joints. Activity strategy training, however, is not commonly prescribed to patients with hip or knee osteoarthritis… Most physical activity programs for these patients only offer structured exercise, which has been shown to have short-term positive effects on arthritis pain and physical disability. But these effects usually fade soon after participation in the program ends.”

The researchers went on to urge osteoarthritis patients to take a proactive role in their therapy. According to lead author Susan L. Murphy

People with osteoarthritis need to be their own agents of change. They can do so much to manage symptoms and stave off functional decline caused by osteoarthritis just by being physically active. The bottom line is to find ways to help people create and maintain these healthy habits.”

 

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Orthokine Therapy: Long-Term Safe and Effective Against Knee Osteoarthritis

August 6, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

Developed by Düsseldorf orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Peter Wehling and molecular biologist Dr. Julio Reinecke – the orthokine therapy is a treatment by which anti-inflammatory proteins from the patient’s own blood are the ones injected into the arthritic joint.

It is based on an understanding of the biological mechanisms that lead to of osteoarthritis and pain. In osteoarthritis, the body produces interleukin-1 (IL-1), a protein that contributes to the breakdown of cartilage.

To slow down or stop this process, the biological adversary of IL-1, the interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra), is used. IL-1Ra neutralizes the effect of IL 1, and has anti-inflammatory, analgesic and cartilage-protective effects.

In the Orthokine method, various anti-flammatory proteins and growth factors such as IL-1Ra are obtained from the patient’s own blood and injected back into the affected joint.

Now, results of a two-year study which compared treatments of hyaluronic acid, orthokine and placebo in osteoarthritis of the knee, revealed that orthokine treatment is the safest and most effective treatment. This has been the GOAT study (German Osteoarthritis Trial) conducted by researchers at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf.

They compared the effects of injections of Orthokine, hyaluronic acid and placebo in 310 arthritis patients over a two-year period. Hyaluronic acid, a joint lubricant, is widely used to treat arthritis. Saline was used as the placebo.

Two years after the series of injections, patients treated with Orthokine scored substantially better than those treated with hyaluronic acid or placebo on measures of pain and joint function.

Two years after the initial treatment, 188 of the 310 patients were still reporting improvements with respect to pain and joint function, while 122 had sought other treatments in the meantime such as surgery, injections, medication or acupuncture. The number of patients requiring further treatment was smallest in the Orthokine group.

According to Prof. Peter Wehling, chairman of the board of Orthogen AG and the co-developer of the orthokine therapy:

“The two-year results confirm our previous studies: Orthokine therapy provides long-term relief from pain and joint dysfunction in many patients and does so more effectively than comparable treatments”.

Findings appear in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. Read more details of this study from
The Medical News Today.

Frankincense Against Knee Osteoarthritis

July 31, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

An enriched extract of the frankincense herb may reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Such were the suggested findings of a study recently reported at Arthritis Research & Therapy.

The authors of the said study have reported that patients who took the enriched herb experienced reduction in pain and increase in mobility in as little as seven days.

The herb was enriched with 30 percent AKBA (3-O-acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid), which exhibits potential anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting the 5-lipoxygenase enzyme. This enzyme transforms essential fatty acids into leukotrienes, which use signals to regulate the body’s response to inflammation.

AKBA is believed to be the most active ingredient of the B. serrata herb.

“AKBA has anti-inflammatory properties, and we have shown that B. serrata enriched with AKBA can be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee,” said study leader Siba Raychaudhuri, a faculty member of the University of California, Davis.

“The high incidence of adverse effects associated with currently available medications has created great interest in the search for an effective and safe alternative treatment,” Raychaudhuri said.

Frankincense is something we knew that is used in incense and in perfumes. From wikipedia:

Frankincense is tapped from the very scraggly but hardy Boswellia tree through slashing the bark and allowing the exuded resins to bleed out and harden. These hardened resins are called tears. There are numerous species and varieties of frankincense trees, each producing a slightly different type of resin. Differences in soil and climate create even more diversity in the resin, even within the same species.

In the abovementioned study, the frankincense specie used is Boswellia serrata enriched with 30% 3-O-acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA) — a product called 5-Loxin®.

5-Loxin(R) is a novel Boswellia serrata extract enriched with 30% 3-O-acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA), which exhibits potential anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting the 5-lipoxygenase enzyme. A 90-day, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of 5-Loxin(R) in the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee.

5-Loxin(R) reduces pain and improves physical functioning significantly in OA patients; and it is safe for human consumption. 5-Loxin(R) may exert its beneficial effects by controlling inflammatory responses through reducing proinflammatory modulators, and it may improve joint health by reducing the enzymatic degradation of cartilage in OA patients.

5-Loxin® is a new, patent-pending joint health ingredient from P.L. Thomas.

Story sources: FOX News, Arthritis Research & Therapy abstract

5-LOXIN is a new, patent-pending joint health ingredient that is steeped in the historic roots of boswellia serrata extracts. The boswellia plant has been used for thousands of years in traditional Ayurvedic medicine in India, and recent studies have shown its benefits in promoting joint comfort, knee mobility and walking distance.

The application of modern science by the researchers at the renowned Laila Impex Research Center in India has resulted in the identification of the most powerful boswellia compound, acetyl-11-keto-beta boswellic acid, or AKBA.

I’m guessing it won’t take too long before this product makes it to the market for public consumption. Soon enough this will be the new osteoarthritis anti-inflammatory/pain drug, don’t you think?

Story sources: FOX News and Arthritis Research & Therapy abstract

Eating Pineapple is Good For Your Joints

July 23, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

Honestly I never thought about it before, never bumped into the information as well until recently that I have been exchanging emails with an old college friend of mine that is working at Dole (Asia) and saw this in her email signature:

A Superfood for Your Joints – pineapple is the only source of the anti-inflammatory enzyme bromelain. Research has linked bromelain with significant reduction in knee pain. Learn more at dolesuperfoods.com.”

Then it so happened  that on Monday, my mother had pineapple slices in our fridge — the small varieties but lot sweeter (than those giant hawaiian pineapples) that thrives here in my region. Well you see I’m not such a fan of pineapples, I always find it too sour even when i was a young kid. If I force myself to eat some, I get sick in the stomach. Maybe that’s just because I have always been hyperacidic. Would your believe even the plain pineapple juice in cans (even the sweetened ones) make my stomach sick? Well until Dole (and Del Monte!) came up with their tropical mixes of juices such as pineapple-orange and pineapple-guava. I love the one with guava though, of course it is sweet and i never took it on an empty stomach.

But yeah, even from long ago I knew that pineapples have got natural chemicals in them that is good for the body and because it is fibrous it indeed good for washing away toxins in one’s intestines. Just watch the current tv ads of Del Monte pineapple juice and that’s what they always say. 😉

Now Dole has got dolesuperfoods.com and I am at a time in my life I’d eat and drink anything that will make my joints a lot better as long as they’re from natural sources. Yes folks I ate my own dust, I’m not ignoring pineapples anymore. That very day I described above? I ate 4 pineapple slices in one sitting! Good thing I didn’t get sick. It was right after my lunch of stir-fried-all-veggies-chinese-noodles that my mother whipped up in our kitchen.

Well…I’ve committed to eating healthier since towards the end of 2007 when osteoarthritis hit me in the face and I almost can’t walk. What i mean by eating healthier is not going on a diet to lose weight, but changing what I eat to more fish, sometimes chicken, a lot less pork and definitely no beef (i almost never ate beef anyway, due to allergy), more veggies and more fresh fruits.

Since then I still am leaner, my joints a lot better. I do walk our yard on a daily basis for  exercise and i prop up my feet while I work near our bed. That way my legs are less stressed, have better circulation and i have have my ginger rub in handy on days I forget and stressed my knees. These are indeed better days.

Now to my friend J at Dole: I need a truckload of Dole pineapples! Send them over, okay? Haha! Kidding.

[Disclaimer: This is not a Dole-sponsored post!]

Rosehip Maybe Better Than Arthritis Pain Killers

May 19, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

The pain-relieving properties of Rosehip has been linked to reduced inflammation in osteoarthritis.

Also called the rose haw – rose hip – is the pomaceous fruit of the rose plant — typically red to orange but may be dark purple to black in some species.

Rose hips of some species, especially Rosa canina (Dog Rose), have been used as a source of Vitamin C. Rose hips are commonly used as an herbal tea, often blended with hibiscus and as an oil. They can also be used to make jam, jelly and marmalade. Rose hip soup, “Nyponsoppa”, is especially popular in Sweden. Rhodomel, a type of mead, is made with rose hips.

Now, speaking of a wild variety of Rosa Canina — it has recently been found by researchers to be better than paracetamol as pain killer in osteoarthritis patients.

A review of studies, published in the medical journal, Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, looked at the effect of the powder on more than 300 patients who were given different pain-relieving medications for an average of three months.

They found that rosehip was almost three times more effective than standard paracetamol at relieving pain. It was also almost 40 per cent more effective than another common therapy, the drug glucosamine.

Rosehip powder also did not have the side-effects associated with other pain medications, including constipation and
drowsiness.

The team which conducted the study, led by Dr Robin Christensen, of the Frederiksberg Hospital in Copenhagen, believes the powder works by also tackling the inflammation associated with osteoarthritis.

According to Dr Kaj Winther, an inflammation specialist at the Frederiksberg Hospital:

“This is very exciting news for arthritis sufferers. Some of the main advantages of taking an alternative medication such as rosehip to reduce pain are that, firstly, it is readily available over the counter and, secondly, unlike traditional painkillers, it does not produce unpleasant side-effects.”

Honestly, I am a promoter of natural treatments, especially for arthritis pain. I am a little wary of being dependent on pain killers as I have osteoarthritis myself. I wouldn’t want the time to come that I will be popping them like candies.

Thereby, I am particularly interested in alternative pain relievers such as rose hip mentioned in the above study.

Recently I have been using ginger rub and the effects are just fantastic. I will write about it on a separate post.

Well…in time there will be more than just rose hip tea but maybe rose hip pills. Why not?!

Find more details from The UK Telegraph.

Of Cane Use and Osteoarthritis Progression

May 12, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

Do you suffer from osteoarthritis? Then how sold are you to the idea of using a cane. You know…cane…man’s third foot in old age!

Osteoarthritis is a common joint joint disease and is incurable. It is just managed by some medications, proper diet,  therapy, some alternative treatments and non-straining exercises.

One source of stress on this vulnerable joint compartment is the knee adduction moment, an indication of weight placement while walking. A 20 percent increase in the peak knee adduction moment is associated with a 6-fold or greater increase in the risk of knee OA progression over 6 years.

To reduce knee load, pain and damage in knee OA patients, physicians often prescribe two inexpensive interventions: footwear and cane use. While these simple strategies have the potential to alter the knee adduction moment, there is little research attesting to their specific benefits for knee OA sufferers.

Because osteoarthritis is a common joint disease that mostly affects the knees, a study revealed that using walking cane and shoes may help to relieve the knees from the stress, thereby maybe reducing the risk of progression of osteoarthritis.

To assess the immediate effects of walking shoes and a walking cane on the peak knee adduction moment in people with knee OA, researchers at the University of Melbourne turned to 3-dimensional (3-D) gait analysis.

Their findings strongly support using a cane on a regular basis to reduce the load borne across the knee, while underscoring the urgent need for studies into which aspects of shoe design best support the treatment of knee OA patients.

Shocks! Do I really have to use a walking cane?! I said goodbye to heels since my knees took the toll of my whole life. Or maybe I just go easy on physical activities. Though not so easy because some light movement and exercise will actually do good towards people suffering from osteoarthritis.

Though canes are widely recommended to knee OA patients, this study validates their therapeutic value, at least in the short-term.

“Further studies are required to establish whether knee loading remains lower with ongoing use of a cane,” notes Dr. Hinman, “and whether the reductions in loading translate to a reduced risk of disease progression.”

Additional studies should also focus on men with knee OA, since 90 percent of the participants in this cane trial were women, and examine changes in knee pain, an issue which the team did not address.

Hmmm…there really must really be a lot more women than men, suffering from knee osteoarthritis.

I thought it was crazy giving up even an inch of my heeled pumps, but I couldn’t walk. I had no choice by to resort to comfortable walking footwear.

Heel height, sole thickness, and arch supports may all play a contributing role. “Because it is potentially dangerous as well as impractical to advise patients with knee OA to walk about in bare feet, further research is needed to determine which types of shoes least increase the knee adduction moment or, ideally, reduce it,” Dr. Hinman observes. “The shoe type optimal for knee OA with regard to its effects on symptoms and disease progression must be determined.”

Bottom line, find what’s more comfortable for you. The pain of knee osteoarthritis isn’t a joke, I’m telling you!

Read the full report from Science Daily.

Stem Cells May Repair Cartilage in Osteoarthritis Patients

April 11, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

Listen to this folks: stem cells may be able to repair the damaged cartilage in osteoarthritis sufferers.

Wouldn’t that be the day?! Definitely a lot better than what the chondroitin-glucosamine tandem have done in both repair and un-repair (!) of the cartilage.

Scientists at Cardiff University have successfully identified stem cells within articular cartilage of adults, which although it cannot become any cell in the body like full stem cells, has the ability to derive into chondrocytes – the cells that make up the body’s cartilage — in high enough numbers to make treatment a realistic possibility. The team have even been able to identify the cells in people over 75 years of age.

This is one of the things I am loving about stem cell therapy, despite the controversy behind it — is its potential to treat or reverse serious conditions, especially one as debilitating as arthritis.

More of the said report from Science Daily:

The research team, funded by the Arthritis Research Campaign and the Swiss AO Foundation, have identified a progenitor, or a partially derived stem cell in bovine cartilage that can be turned into can be turned into a chondrocyte in culture. Their breakthrough came in identifying a similar cell in human cartilage that was more like a stem cell with characteristics that they could be used to treat cartilage lesions due to trauma but also mark the onset of osteoarthritis

Lead researcher Professor Charlie Archer from the Cardiff School of Biosciences said: “We have identified a cell which when grown in the lab can produce enough of a person’s own cartilage that it could be effectively transplanted. There are limitations in trying to transplant a patient’s existing cartilage cells but by culturing it from a resident stem cell we believe we can overcome this limitation.

You have to agree, that this one study,who results are worth watching out for. I just hope it won’t take them too long to validate the potential of stem cells against arthritis.

Happy Easter To All

March 23, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

Happy Easter to all those celebrating Easter…

I went to the beach yesterday with my friends — the first time I’ve been back since December 2007 when I last had sand therapy. I did enjoy it, though there were just too many people frolicking there because of this recent holiday.

There wasn’t time to sit in a corner and bury my legs in the sand. Besides, I was too busy looking out for this little boy.

my-boy-at-the-beach.jpg

Since we arrived there at around 3 pm, we stayed until dark (around 8 pm) — so much so that my legs suffered the wet and cold, enough for my legs to cramp once more. A nice bath and some efficascent oil later, my legs were propped up in bed under a thick warm blanket.

In the morning when I wake up, it’s like nothing happened.

Anyways…here are a few stuff/news regarding arthritis:

New Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug Works for Adults, Children

The new anti-arthritis drug tocilizumab, now being tested, appears to be effective in relieving the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in both adults and children, according to the results of two new studies.

Tocilizumab works by blocking the interleukin-6 receptor. Interleukin-6 is a molecule involved in promoting the painful inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis.

Gel may hold key to arthritis cure

Using light waves, polymers and a nuclear reactor, researchers here are investigating a superstrong, experimental gel that might some day turn into a novel treatment for millions of people who suffer from arthritis.

Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have spent two years shooting neutron beams at the mysterious hydrogel, trying to determine why it is almost as strong, flexible and resistant to friction as the cartilage in the human knee.

Arthritis program offers pain relief

Mt. Carmel Regional Medical Center will again offer the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program ” beginning on April 1, 2008. Developed by physical therapists specifically for people with arthritis, this low-impact, joint-safe exercise program has been documented to help decrease arthritis pain and relieve stiffness while increasing flexibility and range of motion.

Arthritis Foundation certified instructors, each of whom have completed in-depth training on arthritis and the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program, teach the program.

Gardening with arthritis

It might just take a few modifications to regular activities to reduce the stress on painful joints.

Gardening With Arthritis is a seminar planned to provide a few tips on how to do it.

Occupational therapist Katie Wrenn will give general advice on how to use joints wisely and sparingly without too much repetition, and demonstrate the use of gadgets like the tap-twister that makes it easier to turn the hose off and on.

Well, that’s all for now folks! I hope your Easter holiday is a lot better that mine. 😉

Arthritis, Glucosamine and Patient Death

March 5, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

In my previous post, I mentioned that recent evidence is saying that glucosamine has no effect on hip osteoarthritis.

Now, glucosamine has been implicated in the death of an arthritis patient.

As reported in the UK Telegraph:

Norman Ferrie, 64, died just weeks after he started a course of glucosamine, which is made from crab and lobster shells and used by thousands in the UK to ease joint pain.

However, a liver expert has told an inquiry at Perth Sheriff Court in Scotland that patients who fell ill after taking the remedy should stop taking it immediately.

A popular oral arthritis drug (popularly available as food supplement together with chondroitin sulfate) – glucosamine – is derived from selfish. It is a natural chemical in the body found in the cartilage that prevents the bones from rubbing together in our joints.

In the case described above, glucosamine may have lead to the patient’s liver failure thereby causing death.

Dr John Dillon, a consultant gastroenterologist at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, said he could not prove it caused Mr Ferrie’s death but the association was “very worrying”.

He said the public should be warned about the potential dangers of supplements and herbal remedies and they should be regulated like prescription drugs.

Mr Ferrie, an engineer from Invergowrie, Angus, started taking glucosamine tablets in April or May 2004.

But of course, the fact remains that such a case may not be due to glucosamine alone but could also due to its interactions with other drugs.More from Medicinenet about Glucosamine:

Before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all prescription and nonprescription medications you may use, including drowsiness-causing drugs such as: sedatives, tranquilizers, anti-seizure drugs, anti-anxiety drugs (e.g., diazepam), muscle relaxants, antihistamines (e.g., diphenhydramine).

Check all medication labels (e.g., cough-and-cold products) carefully because the products may contain drowsiness-causing antihistamines. Ask your pharmacist about the safe use of those drugs.

Hey, take to your doctor about the issue, in case you are on glucosamine.

My February is Gone

March 3, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

Forgive me for (sort of) neglecting this blog recently. Last week was my craziest week, not to mention that February is my craziest month!

Anyways, this month (March), I will try hard to keep this at the top of my long list. 😉

Well, the only good thing for slacking on the job is that I have a lot lesser stress and thus, is good for my osteoarthritis. That doesn’t mean though that I didn’t think hard about arthritis in the past weeks. I always do!

The following are important stuff I found on arthritis as of recent days (please go beyond the highlighted titles as they’re really important):

Glucosamine Found of No Value for Early Hip Osteoarthritis

In one of the few controlled trials to look at the substance in patients with hip osteoarthritis, glucosamine sulfate did not relieve pain any better than placebo, according to Rianna Rozendaal, M.Sc., of the Erasmus Medical Center, and colleagues.

The substance also had no effect on function, Rozendaal and colleagues wrote in the Feb. 19 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

Our Opinion: Arthritis relief most welcome

We salute Dr. Salvatore Albani and his colleagues for ongoing efforts to better treat rheumatoid arthritis, the leading cause of disability in the United States. Albani, director of the UA’s Arizona Arthritis Center, has discovered a computer-designed peptide that could reduce the harmful side effects and high costs of treatment for arthritis sufferers.

The therapy Albani is working on would redirect the body’s immune system to control rather than spur inflammation, joint swelling and pain. Rheumatic conditions including arthritis cost Arizona $2.3 billion in medical expenses and lost earnings in 2003, reports the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Washington, Feb 21 (ANI): Rheumatoid arthritis patients are twice as likely to suffer from depression, a new study has found.

Rheumatoid arthritis patients are twice as likely to suffer from depression, a new study has found.

However, the study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill also noted that these patients are not likely to tell their doctors about it.

One of the most common forms of chronic inflammatory arthritis is Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an unbearable disease known for its inflammation of joint tissues, functional disability, persistent pain, stiffness and fatigue.

Well, this is all for now. I hope you found the above information relevant. Enjoy your Monday, people! 😉

Newly Developed Osteoarthritis Diagnosis Method

February 19, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

A non-invasive imaging method – chemical exchange saturation method (gagCEST) – that will be useful in the diagnosis and monitoring of some diseases such as osteoarthritis (OA) and inter-vertebral disc degeneration, has been developed by researchers at New York and Tel Aviv Universities.

The said procedure can detect OA and inter-vertebral disc degeneration in their early stages based on the glycosaminogycans (GAGs) concentration.

The research team examined glycosaminogycans (GAGs), which are molecules that serve as the building blocks of cartilage and are involved in numerous vital functions in the human body.

The NYU-Tel Aviv team developed the procedure that will directly measure GAGs.

In this study, they employed the exchangeable protons of GAG to directly measure GAG concentration in vivo.

Knowing that GAG molecules have proton groups that are not tethered tightly, the researchers investigated whether proton exchange in GAGs could allow concentrations of the molecule to be measured by the MRI.

By separating out the GAG protons from those of water, they can be used as a sort of inherent contrast agent. Testing the idea in tissue samples, the researchers found that the available GAG protons provided an effective type of contrast enhancement, allowing them to readily monitor GAGs through a clinical MRI scanner.

The in vivo application of this method showed that this technique can be readily implemented in a clinical setting.

We all know why catching any condition in its earliest stage is beneficial because, in this case, may help indicate early interventions for degenerative disc disease and maybe osteoarthritis.

Currently, how is OA diagnosed? According to Medicinenet:

There is no blood test for the diagnosis of osteoarthritis. Blood tests are performed to exclude diseases that can cause secondary osteoarthritis, as well as to exclude other arthritis conditions that can mimic osteoarthritis.

X-rays of the affected joints can suggest osteoarthritis. The common x-ray findings of osteoarthritis include loss of joint cartilage, narrowing of the joint space between adjacent bones, and bone spur formation.

I bet the x-ray is not an adequate way to at all to catch OA in it tracks.

Find out more about osteoarthritis from Medicinenet.

Research finding have been reported in PNAS.

A Lazy Weekend Can Sometimes Suck…

February 17, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

…if you have osteoarthritis!!

Especially if you cannot go outside because it has been raining day and night this weekend.  Believe it or not, it has been raining cats and dogs out here for the last 3-4-5 days now. I cannot really remember how long because it now feels like forever.

I hate it like this because I often walk around the (our) house, from the back yard to the front, and back again and again, as long as my legs wouldn’t hurt yet. Sometimes in the morning or in the afternoon. I love stretching my legs sometimes, more on weekends because I really need a good break from online and computer stuff (that I do sitting down) and more so because I really need the exercise.

But if it is like this, I hate stepping out on the mud and the rain. I love taking a walk outside on weekends, even if I am talking to somebody on my cellphone.

These are stuff I can do without pressure on weekends. It is almost sacred, like my friend says. Particularly because I will not be able to stand not going outside, even if it is just to smell the flowers, so to speak!

Well, it is already Monday and looks like the rain has no plans of stopping. I cannot have it all, can I?

But is a decent, sunshine-y day to much to ask? The ever-gray skies and this non-stopping rain is make me sad and low.

Arthroscopic Surgery, Arthritic Knees and Arthritic Pain

February 11, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

Arthroscopic surgery (arthroscopy) is a procedure wherein damaged tissue from joints are removed.

Therefore, technically speaking, this procedure should relieve arthritic knees for example.

Arthroscopic surgery for knee osteoarthritis can include a number of different procedures.

These range from lavage, which is flushing and suctioning debris from the joint, to methods like debridement for trimming damaged cartilage and bone spurs.

Surgeons might also treat the bone itself with abrasion or microfracture to stimulate the growth of new cartilage.

BUT, according to a new review of evidence, trimming damaged tissue through arthroscopic surgery does not relieve pain and swelling in arthritic knees any better than simply flushing loose debris from the joint.

However, these findings come from studies on a broad range of patients. The technique, known as arthroscopic debridement (AD), might still improve comfort and mobility in some subsets of patients with the most common form of arthritis, the review authors say.

“Surgeons should make a careful decision about using AD for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis,” said lead author Wiroon Laupattarakasem, M.D., of Khon Kaen University in Thailand. “It should by no means be regarded as inappropriate for every knee.”

Typically, those with osteoarthritis are the ones that often undergo arthroscopic surgery.

Osteoarthritis is typically a progressive disease that affects the hands, hips, shoulders and knees, especially in older people. The condition causes cartilage — which cushions the ends of bones in these joints — to break down. Loose bits of tissue can then cause pain, swelling and poor joint function.

The said review, appears in the most recent issue of The Cochrane Library.

Possible side effects of arthroscopic surgery include a small risk of infection and blood clots. Moreover, the procedure does not stop the progression of osteoarthritis. Symptoms of the disease are likely to return over time and surgical realignment or replacement of the joint could ultimately be necessary.

At this time, clinicians must make decisions regarding arthroscopic debridement on a case-by-case basis. “There may be certain types of pathology or certain levels of disease severity for which AD can be more effective,” says Laupattarakasem.

“The only osteoarthritis patients I typically consider for arthroscopic surgery are those with mild to moderate disease and mechanical symptoms in the knee,” agreed Scott Zashin, M.D., a rheumatologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Such symptoms occur when fragments of cartilage interfere with the joint, causing a painful popping sensation or even locking or buckling of the knee.

As I have always said, anything as invasive as any surgery, doesn’t come with no risks. AS the case maybe, always proceed with caution and several opinions. It is always best to discuss your options thoroughly with your doctor.

Find more details from Center for the Advancement of Health.

Novartis’ Anti-Arthritis Drug Lumiracoxib (Prexige), Recalled From Philippine Market

January 19, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

Here in the Philippines, the Bureau of Food and Drugs has ordered the pull-out from the market of the pain-killer anti-arthritis drug – Lumiracoxib (Prexige) by Novartis – due to fears that it can cause liver damage.

In November 2007, Novartis announced that Prexige had been suspended from sale and marketing in Britain and Germany amid fears it can cause liver damage.

Apparently, Austria, Australia and Canada have taken similar steps of pulling Prexige out of their markets. On the other hand, Prexige has not been approved for sale in the United States.

The health department’s Bureau of Food and Drugs ordered Novartis Healthcare Philippines Inc. to “immediately initiate a product recall and cease and desist from further importing, distributing, or selling Lumiracoxib (Prexige)” tablets.

A bureau advisory said it has “determined that the risks of Lumiracoxib-containing medicines are greater than their benefits,” citing “reports of cases from abroad concerning potential serious liver-related side effects.”

Lumiracoxib is an anti-inflammatory drug used for the treatment of the symptoms of osteoarthritis and dysmenorrhia. The drug is used as well as in dental and orthopaedic surgery.

Lumiracoxib (rINN) is a COX-2 selective inhibitor non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Lumiracoxib has a different structure from the standard COX-2 inhibitors (e.g. celecoxib).

It more closely resembles the structure of diclofenac (one chlorine substituted by fluorine, the phenylacetic acid has another methyl group in meta position), making it a member of the arylalkanoic acid family of NSAIDs.

It binds to a different site on the COX-2 receptor than the standard COX-2 inhibitors. It displays extremely high COX-2 selectivity.

According to the Philippines’ BFAD:

“Patients who are using Lumiracoxib (Prexige) are advised to stop taking the drug and to immediately consult their physicians for information regarding their alternative treatments.

Novartis is in the process of recalling the drug from its distribution outlets
The bureau had no data on the number of people using the drug in the country and there were no reports of any patients showing the same symptoms as those reported in other countries.

Well, I guess it is about time that the Philippines followed suit in the market recall of this product.

Source: AFP Google

Human Height and Osteoarthritis, Genetically Linked

January 14, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

Common genetic variants that play a key role in human height have been found linked to osteoarthritis.

Such were the findings confirmed by a new study co-led by the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

The new study confirms observations by health professionals of a connection between decreased height and increased risk of osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis.

Researchers speculate that both extremes of height may be associated with osteoarthritis for different reasons.

Shorter bones and/or less cartilage may render the joints more susceptible to damage, while longer bones may produce greater levels of damaging stress on the joints.

According to Gonçalo Abecasis, assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health who co-directed the study with Karen Mohlke of the University of North Carolina:

”The findings are exciting for several reasons. For one, there are many genes that control height, but only a few associated with osteoarthritis.

In this case the gene we picked also is important in osteoarthritis and it’s actually quite hard to find genes for osteoarthritis.

One of the things we were excited about is you could study (height) in many people, and once you’ve done that you have a short list of genes that you can then study for what they do in terms of osteoarthritis.”

The variants most strongly associated with height is identified as growth differentiation factor 5 (called GDF5) is a protein involved in the development of cartilage in the legs and other long bones.

Rare variants in the GDF5 gene have been associated with disorders of skeletal development, and more common variants recently have been tied to susceptibility to osteoarthritis of the hip and knees in Asian and European populations.

The researchers speculate that genetic variants that reduce production of the GDF5 protein may affect the amount of cartilage in the spine, the proportion of limbs and/or the angles of joints, resulting in both a modest decrease in height and increased susceptibility to osteoarthritis.

So, if one is either too tall or too short, both are at a greater risk for developing osteoarthritis.

The above study and findings are reported in the journal Nature Genetics in an article that appeared online Jan. 13.

Find more details from Science Daily.

Regular Kneeling Can Increase Arthritis Risk

January 13, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

I thought people just kneel when praying (at least Catholics do!).

However, men who spend significant amounts of time kneeling on the job are at great risk of developing osteoarthritis of the knee.

Such were the findings recently published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine:

While several studies have suggested that people working in jobs that require spending time on one’s knees, such as floor laying, are prone to knee osteoarthritis, few have been able to quantify the amount of time spent kneeling that actually increases risk, Dr Alfred Franzblau of The University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor and colleagues note.

Franzblau and his team evaluated 1,970 people participating in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for whom knee X-rays were available, limiting their analysis to people who had been on their longest-held job for at least five years.

The researchers had five ergonomics experts rate occupations based on how much time a worker would spend each day sitting, standing, walking or running, carrying or lifting loads greater than 22 pounds, kneeling, or working in a cramped space.

This information “allows us to better identify the magnitude of the exposure that contributes to risk,” Franzblau told Reuters Health in an interview.

Apparently, such were the case only on men because only a small percent of women have jobs that require kneeling.

Based on these findings, the researchers estimate that 21 per cent of symptomatic knee osteoarthritis cases in men are due to working in jobs that require kneeling for more than 14 per cent of the workday. Thirty-one per cent of men in the study had jobs that met this description, including nursery or farm work or construction trades.

While just five per cent of women in the study had jobs that required kneeling, 35 per cent had jobs that required them to stand for more than 30 per cent of their work day, in activities such as operating machines or working in sales, the researchers note. This means about 19 per cent of cases of symptomatic knee osteoarthritis in women are due to working in such jobs.

The findings call for modifications in doing such jobs that require kneeling.

However, I just wonder if industrial big wigs will take the extra mile just so their employees reduce their osteoarthritis risk?

Find more details from The Sydney Morning Herald.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.